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Edge of Seventeen: Juvenile Agony and Youth Fantasies in New Queer Adolescence Films
Unformatted Document Text:  In most of these films, little or no connection is made between sexual activity and the larger features of gay and lesbian culture. According to Kielswasser and Wolf, sexuality is reduced to genitality, with the narratives in no way being about “young gay love.” “This reductive move further reinforces the myth of homosexuality as a phase experience. That is, if homosexuality is defined by genital activity, then gays and lesbians can relinquish their homosexuality simply through “doing it” with the right partners (or just not doing it at all)” (p. 361). In contrast to this mainstream representation of gay coming of age, alternative queer cinema in mid 1990s and early 2000 politicizes the mechanisms of heterosexualization. Ideologically, this cinema portrays the maturation process as a courageous attempt to escape the dominant erotic regime and to attain same-sex fulfillment. In alternative queer adolescence cinema, homosexuality is not a fashionable trend or the rebellious behavior of an undisciplined juvenile or “wasted” body. It is certainly not a perversion or ridiculed freak show, nor “just a phase.” Rather, this pro-gay cinema (made by gay-identified or, at least, gay-friendly filmmakers) shows same-sex attraction, sex, romance, difficulties and confrontation with powerful homophobic systems and their mostly unenlightened and/or vicious agents – parents, teachers, students, psychologists, etc. This alternative attitude towards gay adolescence and the queer body is paradigmatically reflected in Beautiful Thing (Hettie MacDonald, UK 1995), Edge of Seventeen (David Moreton, USA 1998), Get Real (Simon Shore, UK / South Africa 1998), and in Lee Rose’s examination of a lesbian high-school student’s struggle in The Truth about Jane (USA 2000), and in the unexpected queer experiences of young Frederic in François Ozon’s short film Une Robe d’Été (A Summer Dress, France 1996). Sissified Bodies and Muscular Desire The difficulties and agonies of adolescence, and gay/lesbian adolescence in particular, are pointedly articulated by Tim Bergling (2001) in his book about sissy-phobia outside and especially inside the gay community:

Authors: Padva, Gilad.
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In most of these films, little or no connection is made between sexual activity and the
larger features of gay and lesbian culture. According to Kielswasser and Wolf,
sexuality is reduced to genitality, with the narratives in no way being about “young
gay love.” “This reductive move further reinforces the myth of homosexuality as a
phase experience. That is, if homosexuality is defined by genital activity, then gays
and lesbians can relinquish their homosexuality simply through “doing it” with the
right partners (or just not doing it at all)” (p. 361).
In contrast to this mainstream representation of gay coming of age, alternative queer
cinema in mid 1990s and early 2000 politicizes the mechanisms of
heterosexualization. Ideologically, this cinema portrays the maturation process as a
courageous attempt to escape the dominant erotic regime and to attain same-sex
fulfillment. In alternative queer adolescence cinema, homosexuality is not a
fashionable trend or the rebellious behavior of an undisciplined juvenile or “wasted”
body. It is certainly not a perversion or ridiculed freak show, nor “just a phase.”
Rather, this pro-gay cinema (made by gay-identified or, at least, gay-friendly
filmmakers) shows same-sex attraction, sex, romance, difficulties and confrontation
with powerful homophobic systems and their mostly unenlightened and/or vicious
agents – parents, teachers, students, psychologists, etc. This alternative attitude
towards gay adolescence and the queer body is paradigmatically reflected in Beautiful
Thing (Hettie MacDonald, UK 1995), Edge of Seventeen (David Moreton, USA
1998), Get Real (Simon Shore, UK / South Africa 1998), and in Lee Rose’s
examination of a lesbian high-school student’s struggle in The Truth about Jane (USA
2000), and in the unexpected queer experiences of young Frederic in François Ozon’s
short film Une Robe d’Été (A Summer Dress, France 1996).
Sissified Bodies and Muscular Desire
The difficulties and agonies of adolescence, and gay/lesbian adolescence in particular,
are pointedly articulated by Tim Bergling (2001) in his book about sissy-phobia
outside and especially inside the gay community:


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